My old college roommates will attest to the fact that I adhere to no boundaries when it comes to eating ketchup. I once ate it slathered on a blueberry muffin. (Okay, so that was a dare – but well worth the $10 I earned.)

Homemade Ketchup

Seventeen years after the dining hall muffin debacle, ketchup is still one of the most popular condiments in my house. So, being DIY Natural, we wanted to learn to make it ourselves. Although making your own will save money, for us it was more about avoiding certain ingredients and finding that perfect ketchup flavor.

Unfortunately, our favorite brand of ketchup from the store contained high fructose corn syrup, and when we started eating a more healthful diet and completely cut high fructose corn syrup from our diets we had to choose brands that just didn’t deliver the same flavor. Shortly after our quest for a good alternative began, our old favorite brand started making a “natural” version without the high fructose corn syrup. But wouldn’t you know – it contained lots of sugar, which we were convinced was probably derived from GMO sugar beets. (If you’ve been following the whole GMO issue, you know that most of the sugar contained in processed foods these days is coming from genetically engineered sugar beets. Not much better for you than high fructose corn syrup, right?)

What’s the moral of the story? Don’t be fooled by brands that claim “natural” status, boasting things like “Made without high fructose corn syrup.” Because the sad truth is that most companies are looking to cut corners with ingredients, keep prices low, and profits high. So while they may not contain the one ingredient consumers are popularly starting to avoid, they’ll replace it with another equally unhealthy ingredient that many consumers have not yet been trained to sniff out. Ahhh, big business – you win the sneaky-sneaky award once again.

But I digress – back to our search for a decent ketchup. In between a few nasty batches of homemade ketchup we finally took a break from experimentation and purchased an organic bottled brand of ketchup we absolutely loved. Glancing at the ingredients we noticed it was simple. A little tomato, a little vinegar, a little sugar, water, salt, and seasonings. We were going to give it another shot, replacing the sugar with a natural sweetener, and see how it turned out.

Our first batch was so sweet we could have put it on pancakes. (Hey – it probably would have gone great with that blueberry muffin!)

We finally knocked this recipe out of the park by using a little less sweetener. The result was a ketchup that we like better than our old standby. (Should have known that would be the case, right DIY-ers?!?)

Homemade Ketchup 1

Fabulous Homemade Ketchup

(Makes about 1½ cups)



Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Begin whisking to blend ingredients until smooth. Bring mixture to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, stirring frequently and scraping around sides of the saucepan with a spatula. Simmer until desired thickness is achieved (could take about 20-25 minutes or more). Remove from heat and allow to cool. Transfer to a jar, cap tightly, and refrigerate.

Homemade Ketchup 2

A few things to note

  • In the fridge this ketchup will last at least a month (ours has lasted much longer)
  • You can preserve this recipe using the hot water bath method – just boil for 15-20 minutes.

Are you ready to try it?

Go ahead – use your new homemade ketchup to douse your crispy baked french fries, perfectly grilled burgers, or anything else that goes well with this lovely red condiment. (Blueberry muffin anyone?)


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  1. Joan Riding says

    Thanks so much for the ketchup recipe. Really looking forward to giving it a try. Was wondering if you think it is possible to can the ketchup using a water bath method?

  2. Taylor says

    How long will this ketchup last in the fridge? We don’t eat it on a regular basis but would love to have some on hand!

  3. Nancy says

    Just curious have you ever tried making ketchup from tomatoes? I remember doing it as a kid but do not have my mothers recipe.Also have you ever tried sweetening with honey.Honey straight from the bee farm is easily available here and wondered if it worked in this instance?

    • Ange says

      I was also wondering about making the ketchup from tomatoes from the garden! We have an abundance of tomatoes and have been wanting to make ketchup. My mother-in-law tells me that she’s tried it for years and has never been able to have it come out just right. Thanks for your postings!!

      • Lillian says

        You’d need to cook down the tomatoes. I suggest starting the process stovetop to break them down. Once they’ve mushed out a bit – run them through a food mill or squeezo to remove the seeds and skin, the pour them into oven safe containers with a large surface area (I use lasagna dishes) and cook low and slow until the sugars start to caramelize and the water is significantly reduced (you’re essentially making a tomato paste, googling “oven tomato paste” gave me a lot of suggestions.) and proceed as with tomato paste.

    • Matt Jabs says

      Yes, but this is meant to be a simple and quick recipe. We prefer ketchup made from cooked down tomatoes, but this is a delicious alternative that saves a lot of time.

  4. Sunny Nelson says

    This I will try. I can remember my parents making chili sauce with fresh tomatoes and stirring for hours until it got thick. YUMMM

  5. Hana says

    Can’t wait to try this one.
    I will do my mom’s “no water bath” canning method pouring the hot ketchup into sterilized small jars and close it with sterilized lids. As the ketchup cools down it’ll create vacuum and seal the lid.

  6. Ashley Graham-Smith says

    I tried to make a recipe similar to this and it turned out VERY pasty. So pasty that we couldn’t even dip things into it, and I had to chuck it. I’m going to try this one and see if it works any better!

  7. Tina says

    It cracks me up that it lasts over a month in your home – it would only last a week or two around here! :o) I am going to give it a try.

  8. says

    I’m just wondering on the part where you say to use ¼ cup pure maple syrup wouldn’t that be not good for a person that is diabetic? Why I’m asking is I know pure maple syrup is high in sugar and carbs.

    • Matt Jabs says

      Hi Lynn, this isn’t a diabetic recipe so if you’re diabetic you’ll want to make whatever adjustments are necessary for your diet. Blessings!

      • says

        Hi Matt, Sorry for just getting to this message.Thanks so much for getting back to me on this.Yeah my Dad is diabetic and I have low sugar so wouldn’t want to try it with the pure maple syrup.I wish I could find a recipe or knew how to adjust the recipe where it would work for a diabetic. Thanks again for the information!

  9. Jill says

    There are two of us – my son and myself in my family with fruit intolerances which means no citric acid and no vinegar – so difficult. My son loves ketchup and I think I can switch out the vinegar for rice vinegar but we can’t eat anything from a can because of the citric acid. Any recommendations on a good tomato paste recipe? And yes, we know about citric acid and tomatoes but we have been assured by our doctor that fresh tomatoes are ok for us. Thanks for any help:)

  10. matt says

    curious if there is a rule of thumb for substituting some of the salt with sugar , to make a lower sodium ketchup? I must have a low sodium diet

    • Betsy Jabs says

      I personally would not add any more sweetener to this recipe, but you can test it out. Try making the recipe without salt first, then see how you like it.

  11. Jenn Moore says

    would regular tap water work as well? We have very good well water here and I am trying to save a few bucks.

    • Betsy Jabs says

      Regular tap water would work, but it may shorten the shelf life of your ketchup because tap water contains contaminants. If using tap water, boil it for about 15 minutes before adding it to your recipe & this should help.

  12. says

    Thank you so much for this recipe – as a person allergic to corn this is the first one I’ve come across that may actually be good to try :) I’ll be posting my results on my blog over the school holidays in the next couple of weeks :)